A high school guidance counselor and a mother of two from northwestern Iowa will take part in one of the world’s most challenging physical competitions this month — the World Ironman Championships in Hawaii. Deb Hankens of Cherokee says she’s ran, swam and biked through four other Ironman triathlons, but the Hawaii edition is the “true” Ironman.
Hankens says “The first one was very emotional just because completing that type of an event, that much distance. The other three have all be very gratifying. When you put that much time into preparation and you actually spend that long in the competition, it’s just a wonderful feeling to cross the finish line.” The Hawaii Ironman encompasses a two-point-four mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26-point-two mile marathon.
Hankens says “It’s one big long thing. You start swimming and as soon as you’re out of the water, you get on your bike and as soon as you’re off your bike you start running. You talk about winners and there are winners but when you’re talking about Ironman distance, if you’re a finisher, you’re a winner.”
Hankens is 55-years-old and says most of her competitors will be in their 30s and 40s but some are in their 70s, as there’s no age limit. She says the students at Washington High School in Cherokee and members of her own family give her equal portions of praise and “You’re nuts!” She laughs and says “Since I’ve been doing this for longer than all my students have been alive and as long as my kids can remember, it’s yep, there she is, there she’s going again, good luck, mom!”
Hankens is also the girls’ and boys’ cross country coach at Washington High. The competition in Hawaii is October 21st and will involve 17-hundred of the world’s top triathletes.